Top Korean Universities

Category : Learning Korean / Education/Teaching / International Students
Mar 24, 2015

Top Korean Universities


Deciding on which university to pursue your studies in Korea can be a bit daunting. With over 400 universities to choose from, it’s true that Korea has no shortage of institutions of higher learning. Thankfully, due to several domestic and international ranking systems (here used to build the methodology behind the following article), finding the right Korean university doesn’t necessarily have to be a challenge.


Several criteria were taken into account when narrowing down 10 universities from the initial 400 in this article, namely the school’s academic reputation (based on one domestic ranking, the Joongang Daily Newspaper and one international ranking system, the QS World University Rankings), as well as their English course offerings, general campus life, and other perks for exchange students. One exception was made for Pusan National University (PNU), which, while not scoring high on the two selected Korean ranking systems, still scored well on the QS domestic ranking system. Since nearly all of the featured universities are in Seoul, including PNU on the list gives readers the option of considering a school in a different city.


Socializing is a huge component of Korean university life. As such, the areas surrounding nearly all the universities on this list have many cafes, shops, restaurants, and drinking spots for students to pass time between classes. While the adjacent Sinchon and Hongdae student areas in western-central Seoul are particularly popular with students and other party-goers from around the city, the same basic amenities fill almost every college town in Korea: cheap takeout restaurants, romantic coffee shops for couples to flock to, bars serving up student-priced beer & fried chicken, and closet-sized boutiques with chic (yet affordable) fashions for the style-conscious student.


Nearly all of the schools on this list offer their own summer Korean language & culture program for foreign students, often lasting around a month. Usually consisting of guest lectures, field trips around Seoul, and various cultural activities, these programs are definitely worth attending prior to beginning a study abroad experience in Korea.


  • Related articles: International Student Life in Korea and University Korean Language Programs.


Seoul National University (SNU) 서울대학교

Seoul National University is Korea’s top university, being particularly strong in the fields of science, business, and politics. Many of this public university’s top graduates now dominate Korea’s courtrooms and top company offices. SNU is one of Korea’s larger universities, with over 27,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. SNU is also known for its scientific research, with several of its faculty having made world-renowned discoveries in the fields of Biology and Astronomy. For example, three of SNU’s Astronomy Department professors recently discovered a cluster of galaxies which other scientists believe is critical to revealing the early history of the universe. As well, the Biology Department’s Professor Narry Kim’s major discoveries in the human genome field have led her to win the UNESCO Women in Science Award (2008), among other honors. Many students like that while SNU is located in a big city, the campus itself is surrounded by nature, particularly the famous Gwanak Mountain.


  1. Ranking: #1 (Korea) and #37 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Gwanak, Southern Seoul. Mt. Gwanak, a famous mountain and tourist site in Seoul, is near SNU.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 5.3 million to 8.2 million KRW (5,000 to 7,700 USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: 471.
    • Recommended for: Engineering and Korean Language & Culture majors.
    • Not recommended for: Political Science and International Relations majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Opportunity to mingle with Korean students at the campus “English Café” and 100+ student clubs to join.
  6. Fun fact: Current UN Secretary General, Ban ki-Moon, is a graduate of SNU.


Seoul National University Contact Info

Ms. Sunju Park: Partnership and Exchange Manager

  1. Tel: +82 2 880 8692
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: SNU


Yonsei University (Yeon Dae) 연세대학교

Yonsei is Korea’s oldest private university. It currently holds a long-lived rivalry for the top private school in the country against Korea University. Yonsei also has over 600 partner schools around the world, offering affordable exchange options for students who want to experience Korean university life on a semester or year-long basis. Like SNU, Yonsei has received a lot of attention for its campus’s natural beauty; in its recent “Eye on South Korea” program, CNN recently described Yonsei as having “one of the most beautiful campuses in the world”.


  1. Ranking: #4 (Korea) and #112 (Worldwide).
  2. Main Campus: Sinchon, western-central Seoul. Near Hongik and Ewha Women’s University: the area between the three schools forms a triangle filled with clubs, restaurants, and shops which mainly attract the student crowd.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 13.3 million KRW (12,500USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: 200-250 (undergraduate) and 100 (graduate).
  • Recommended for: Engineering, International Studies, and Korean Studies.
  • Not recommended for: Business majors (course spots are very limited).
  1. Perks for Foreign Students: Korean-foreign student buddy program available, field trips and free language exchanges organized by the International Office, and access to the International Office’s “Global Lounge”.


Yonsei University Contact Info

Yang, Nai Gab: International Scholar and Student Services Team Leader

  1. Tel: +82 2 2123 6490
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website


Source: Yonsei


Korea University (KU) 고려대학교

Korea University is known for being an extremely selective university, accepting only around 6% of applicants into its prestigious programs. It’s also well-known for its Law school, which has produced some high-profile graduates. KU is famous for its historic rivalry with Yonsei, and each year the two schools host a series of “Friendship Games”, which feature competitions in basketball, ice hockey, soccer, and several other sports. KU also has a large international student population, hosting over 8,300 students from around the world.


  1. Ranking: #6 (Korea) and #137 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Anam, northeastern Seoul.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: Program tuition differs - contact Korea University Study Abroad to find out specific program costs.
  4. English Courses Offered: 50 per semester.
    • Recommended for: General Studies. Few English courses are offered in comparison with other universities, and they’re not concentrated in one particular major.
    • Not recommended for: Business majors, as the courses in this major fill up fast – spots for foreign students are not always guaranteed.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Exchange student-only scholarship (400,000KRW to 300,000KRW/month + travel stipend) based on merit and KUBA (KU Buddy Assistant) program: matches foreign students with a Korean buddy/guide to help with cultural adjustment.


Korea University Contact Info

Korea University Study Abroad

  1. Tel: +82 2 3290 5151 ~5154
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: KU


Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) 포항공과대학교

POSTECH is generally viewed as Korea’s top technical university, and its rivalry with KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) is similar to Yonsei and KU’s. POSTECH now offers all of its courses in English, making it an attractive option for foreign students. While the city of Pohang is by no means small by most standards (having a population of around 500,000), those wanting a more cosmopolitan study abroad experience would probably be better off at a school in Seoul. Otherwise, Pohang’s location near many beaches and cultural sites offer a slightly less-crowded experience, while still boasting the same basic student amenities found on nearly every street in Seoul (ie: cheap alcohol and lots of delivery fried chicken).


  1. Ranking: #2.5 (Korea) and #97 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Pohang – approx. 250km outside of Seoul, near the historic city of Gyeongju on Korea’s southeastern coast.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 6.1 million KRW. (5,700USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: All courses are offered in English, as of spring 2010.
    • Recommended for: Science and Engineering students.
    • Not recommended for: Humanities and Social Science students. (POSTECH does offer courses in these areas; however, they’re very limited).
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Cultural events held on-campus each Thursday (free for POSTECH students with 10,000KRW annual membership), free Korean language program offered during each semester and summer & winter breaks, Korean-international student Buddy Program, and cheap on-campus housing (400,000KRW/semester).


Fun fact: Each year, POSTECH and KAIST hold a “Science War”, which pits students against each other in the areas of artificial intelligence design, computer hacking, and yes, even Starcraft.


POSTECH Contact Info

POSTECH International Office

  1. Tel: +82 5427 9 3683
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: wiki


Ewha Womans University (E-Dae) 이화여자대학교

Ewha Women’s University is Korea’s top women’s university. However, male students from foreign partner universities are permitted to study here. Ewha (commonly referred to as “Edae”), offers many activities and clubs for that exchange students are encouraged to join. However, some might say a less popular feature of Ewha’s campus life is their dorm’s strict curfew of 11:00pm. So, for those looking to have more of a party lifestyle during their Korean university experience, Ewha may not be the best choice.


  1. Ranking: #10 (Korea) and #341 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: “Edae” (named after the university), western-central Seoul. Filled with girly cafes, hair and nail salons, boutiques, and restaurants, all catered to a student budget. As mentioned earlier, Edae is part of the “triangle” of schools that make up the Sinchon and Hongdae areas of Seoul.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 4 million won. ($3,750USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: 100-200
    • Recommended for: Engineering, Fine Arts, Business, and Social Science majors.
    • Not recommended for: Nursing, Law, and Pharmaceutical majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Korean-exchange student Buddy Program (airport pickup and pre-arrival assistance), International Student Fellowship club, and free Korean lessons through the Ewha Korean Language Education Society.


Ewha Contact Info

Esther Han: Inbound Student Exchange Program Coordinator

  1. Tel: +82.2.3277.6987
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: usline


Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) 성균관 대학교

Sungkyunkwan (also known as “Seongdae” and commonly abbreviated at “SKKU”), is one of Korea’s oldest schools. With its humanities & social science campus located in Hyewha, in Seoul’s central Jongno district, and its natural sciences campus located in Suwon (a city just outside of Seoul), Sungkyunkwan has come a long way since its days in the 14th century, when it first operated as a school for Confucian thought. Nowadays, SKKU is growing in its reputation as a top school, especially since its recent sponsorship by Samsung.


  1. Ranking: #5.5 (Korea) and #179 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Hyewha, central Seoul. Close to the popular shopping districts of Myeongdong, Dongdaemun, and Namdaemun, where many local and international chain stores and market areas stay open 24-7. Other campus located in Suwon, a one-hour ride from Seoul on the subway’s line #1.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 6.2 million to 8 million KRW. (5,800 to 7,500USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: Around 2,000
    • Recommended for: Asian Studies, Public Administration, Art & Design, and Engineering majors.
    • Not recommended for: Pharmacy and Business majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Tuition waver to SKKU’s Spring or Fall semester Korean language institute.


SKKU Contact Info

Kyuseok (Mick) Kim, Exchange Program Manager: Inbound

  1. Tel: +82 2 760 0025
  2. Email:
  3. Main Website:



Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) 한국과학기술연구원

One of Korea’s leading universities, like POSTECH, KAIST is known for its strength in the technical academic areas. KAIST is also recognized around the world for its strengths in scientific research. Also like POSTECH, KAIST’s main campus is located outside of Seoul, in Daejeon, a city in central Korea. Its campuses in Daejeon are located in Daedeok “Science Town”, an area filled with private and public research institutes and three other universities. Most students like to get around by bicycle. Several mountains are also nearby the Daejeon campuses, giving students the option of getting some quality fresh air once they’re finished in the lab.


  1. Ranking: #1.5 (Korea) and #63 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: One campus in Northeastern Seoul, plus two campuses in Daejeon, 45 minutes from Seoul via subway. With about 1.5 million residents, Daejeon is Korea’s fifth largest city.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 15 million KRW (14,000USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: Over 1,000.
    • Recommended for: Science and Engineering majors
    • Not recommended for: Fine Arts, Humanities or Social Science majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Annual job seminar for foreign students, weekly foreign film nights, monthly international leadership meetings, annual International Festival in April, and cultural trips.


Contact Info

Mr. Yoon S. Kim, Team Leader: Office of Advising and Support International Students

  1. Tel: 82 42 350 2489
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: kaist


Pusan National University (PNU) 부산대학교

Pusan National University is one of Korea’s top universities located outside of Seoul. Located in the nation’s biggest port city, PNU has special programs in shipbuilding and construction. Also notable is its Global Studies program, which provides a variety of English language courses, ranging from “Applied Quantitative Economics” to “Human Rights and Overseas Development Aid”. For those looking for a big city experience, and are willing to look outside of Seoul to find it, Busan is a much sunnier alternative and still offers many of the same entertainment options. Especially notable is the annual Busan International Film Festival. Held every fall, BIFF attracts some of Korea’s biggest stars.


  1. Ranking: #401-450 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Busan, southwestern Korea: a bustling port city with tons of nightlife options and large foreigner community; famous for its sandy Haeundae Beach, deliciously fresh seafood, and known to some as “the Miami of Korea”.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 3.6 million to 5.4 million KRW. (3,300 to 5,000 USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: 100+
    • Recommended for: Engineering, Science, and International Relations majors
    • Not recommended for: Fine Arts majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Korean-foreign student buddy program, employment support, and international festivals.


Contact Info

Office of International Affairs

  1. Tel: 82-51-510-3651 ~3
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website:



Source: PNU


Hanyang University 한양대학교

With over 100 exchange partner universities, Hanyang is trying to increase its profile as a global university. Several scholarships are available for international students, with benefits ranging from 50% to 100% of the tuition being waved. Hanyang has also produced several notable figures in Korea’s entertainment and business industries, with many of LG and Samsung’s Vice-Chairmen having been graduates of this university.


  1. Ranking: #8 (Korea) and #249 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Seongdong, eastern-central Seoul.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 3.5 million to 5.3 million KRW (3,300 to 5,000USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: 500+
    • Recommended for: International Studies majors - all IS classes are taught in English.
    • Not recommended for: As Hanyang offers so many classes in a variety of majors, most students should feel comfortable with the course offerings at this school.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Exchange-Korean Buddy Student program (includes airport pickup) and regular events organized by the International Office and International Student Union.


Contact Info:

Mr. Boykyung Kim

  1. Email:
  2. Main Website:



Source: Hanyang



Sogang University 서강대학교

Sogang is a Catholic University located in the Mapo area of Seoul. It’s known mainly for its programs in the fields of Business and Economics. Sogang also runs an internship program for business students, placing them in positions at some of Korea’s top companies, including Samsung, LG, and Hyundai. A 1,700USD scholarship for travel or living expenses is also available for students who take at least one Business and Economics course during their studies. Third and fourth-year foreign undergraduate students may also take classes at Sogang’s Graduate School of International Studies, as long as they gain permission from the instructor beforehand.


  1. Ranking: #9.5 (Korea) and #391 (Worldwide)
  2. Location: Mapo, western-central Seoul, a short distance away from the vibrant and popular areas of Sinchon and Hongdae.
  3. Annual International Student Tuition: 7.6 million to 9.4 million KRW (7,100 to 8,800USD)
  4. English Courses Offered: Over 200.
    • Recommended for: Business, Sciences, and English Literature majors.
    • Not recommended for: Law or Teaching majors.
  5. Perks for Foreign Students: Free Korean language classes, regular field trips, exchange fairs, and job and internship listings are posted regularly on the International Office website.


  • Fun fact: Korea’s newly elected President, Park Geun-hye was a graduate of the university’s engineering program.


Contact Info:

Office of International Affairs

  1. Tel: +82-2-705-7855
  2. Email:
  3. International Office Website
  4. Main Website



Source: sogang

Tags : SNU. Yonsei. Korea University. Seoul. Education.

Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at